The introduction of these 11 American bison also has the potential to reshape the landscape at Minneopa State Park, in addition to expanding the natural bison population. By grazing over grass and kicking up soil, these bison will bring a biodiversity to the park that goes far beyond their own species.
The move also seems to be a positive change for the 11 bison's quality of life. No longer confined to a small area inside the zoo, the bison will have more opportunities to explore in their new 330-acre home.
Visitors of the state park gathered on Friday to watch the bison and share their enthusiasm for the bisons' new home. "As a Dakota person," spectator Glenn Wasicuna told a local news station, "I feel this is part of my healing process ... bison coming back here."
For the next month, the park plans to keep the bison private until they are more fully integrated into their new home. In October, visitors will be permitted to observe the bison, and at some point next year, a bull will be introduced into the herd, in the hopes of at least partially, restoring the once thriving bison population in America.
Friday marked a joyous day for these 11 bison as they ran toward a new chapter of their lives.
Watch the full video of the bison's first few moments of freedom below.